Objective: To assess the risk for transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from an infected health care worker to patients.
Design: Survey of investigators from health departments, hospitals, and other agencies who had elected to notify patients who had received care from health care workers infected with HIV.
Measurements: Information was collected about infected health care workers, their work practices, their patients' HIV test results, procedures that they did on those of their patients who were tested for HIV, and patient notification procedures.
Results: As of 1 January 1995, information about investigations of 64 health care workers infected with HIV was reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; HIV test results were available for approximately 22,171 patients of 51 of the 64 health care workers. For 37 of the 51 workers, no seropositive patients were reported among 13,063 patients tested for HIV. For the remaining 14 health care workers, 113 seropositive patients were reported among 9108 patients. Epidemiologic and laboratory follow-up did not show any health care worker to have been a source of HIV for any of the patients tested.
Conclusion: Despite limitations, these data are consistent with previous assessments that state that the risk for transmission of HIV from a health care worker to a patient is very small. These data also support current recommendations that state that retrospective patient notification need not be done routinely.